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Concerns about how Chinese managers and former IBMers from the US would get along have dogged Lenovo since it announced last year it would acquire Big Blue’s PC unit.

But Mary Ma says the national gulf is actually less of an issue than the difference in culture between a youthful Chinese venture only in its second generation of leaders and a global giant with a long history. “It’s not a difference between Chinese and Americans, but really between an entrepreneur company and a well-established multinational company.”

Lenovo executives, used to fast decision-making, have been taken aback by IBM’s more studious approach, which includes the need to consult about 140 corporate instructions.

Lenovo has been helped by the easy fit between the businesses. The biggest Chinese PC maker had little presence elsewhere, while IBM has a global sales network but only
a small sales team in China. And while Lenovo is strong in consumer PCs, IBM has
long focused on laptops for business users.

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